To fill in the picture in Portugal, the Centre Equestre at Vila Franca was created and dedicated to the horse, the riding school based on the work of the Marquis of Marialva and related activities.
The location was built and planned combining the riding school with the natural beauty of the area. The area is referred to as the "Leziria", meaning a fertile plain through which the Tagus runs. It is a natural reserve with abundant flowers and wildlife. The riding centre took it's name from the floodplain, and the Centre Equestre de Leziria Grande offers tourists not only the natural beauty of the setting, the horses and typical cuisine and the delicious local wines, but also cultural events such as folk dancers, brass bands with typical Portuguese instruments. The highlight of every entertainment is the Equestrian Gala, based on the presentations which were made to the kings of Portugal in the eighteenth century and showing the versatility of the horse in a number of disciplines; the gala has to be seen to be believed; there is nothing quite like it elsewhere in the world.
The Centre Equestre de Leziria Grande is open to everyone; age is simply not an issue; our specialism is the High School work, training these horses to the level of the airs above the ground.
At the Centre Equestre a number of different breeds of horses can be seen; however the Lusitano horse features most predominantly.
The original characteristics of the Lusitano horse, which includes its great courage and obedience to the rider combined with an agility and a unique ability to go down on the haunches and remain in balance, all of which makes it invaluable in bull-fighting, have been preserved here.
The traditions and costumes of the 18c are to be seen here, and this includes the harness and above all the horsemanship practised at that time; the golden age of the art of riding.
Through the efforts of a few individuals this horsemanship and tradition has survived, and influenced the way of riding in Portugal.
This represents a very special and unusual equestrian heritage in terms of the teaching of the art of riding, which has such a brilliant reputation in Portugal.